The show kicked off with Brad Maddox cantering to the ring like a young Eric Bischoff. Yeah, that's how you start Monday Night RAW. The new GM announced that he'd made Alberto Del Rio v Dolph Ziggler for later on in the evening. Making big matches would be Maddox's theme for the show. Later on he'd make Rob Van Dam v Chris Jericho and this segment would conclude with the official decision to have Orton and Fandango wrestle. Brad certainly likes making matches.
John Cena quickly joined his new storyline boss. He was told he could pick his own opponent for SummerSlam. That led to a "hilarious" reference to Doc Hendrix (Michael Hayes' backstage interviewer pseudonym, fact fans!) and Cena saying that he could choose Michael Cole or one of the Bellas as his foe. Cena rolling around with one of the Bellas? Don’t be ridiculous...
Randy Orton interrupted this. He did the standard Money in the Bank holder shtick of telling the champion that his cash-in won't be seen coming. Fandango joined the fun and games (the crowd did the best Fandangoing in months) to say he should challenge Cena at SummerSlam, prompting a brawl with Orton. That's when Brad made the first match. It was a tasty little encounter. 'The Viper' won.Backstage Dolph Ziggler told AJ to move on, prompting a “Yes!” chant. Everyone immediately knew where that would lead.
A packed opening segment featuring Faaaaaan... daaaaaan... goooooo!
Next up was another talking segment. This one featured (or starred, choose whichever term you wish) Mark Henry. He was wearing another snazzy suit. It was black-grey. Salmon pink is so last month! 'The World's Strongest Man' put over Cena, the title and their Money in the Bank match. The crowd were into him, although he didn't escape the fast-becoming-standard "Sexual Chocolate" chant.
The Shield interrupted the festivities to beat down Henners. 'The WSM' did a good job of fighting them off before he was overwhelmed, put down with a spear and then hoisted up for a triple power bomb. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns would later explain that the attack was retribution for Henry stealing their favourite My Little Pony toy. I jest, of course. Their true reason, revealed via the WWE App, was that Henry's not done enough with his seventeen year career. I'd agree with that.Right now it looks like we'll be getting Mark Henry and the Usos v The Shield at SummerSlam, or possibly Henry v Ambrose. I'm not desperate to see either match. I guess 'Taker's not coming back anytime soon. Pity.
Mark Henry sell job? Rare
Match two was the non-title encounter between World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler. It was another highly enjoyable match for the two of them. They've yet to have a bad one. They gel really nicely as opponents.
AJ distracted Ziggler by ringing the bell just as he went for a cover after a Fameasser from the ropes. That allowed ADR to recover and hit a kick to the head for the win. The champ left as AJ headed into the ring to try and job out 'The Show Off'. She couldn't get it done herself so Big E joined her, smacking Ziggler with that weird body tackle clothesline of his then dropping him with the Big Ending. Looks like it's Ziggler v Langston at SummerSlam. Either that or Dolph's challenging for the Divas title.After a break and some plugs R-Truth headed out to the ring, presumably for a match. InWhat he got was a beating from the Wyatt Family. A commentary highlight of the segment was Michael Cole saying that Bray was sitting in his sinister rocking chair. Can rocking chairs be sinister? Michael Cole certainly thinks so.
The best match of Big E's career so far is coming up at SummerSlam
Bray confirmed that he's still 'The Eater of Worlds' (that's how you do a moniker, kids) and told Truth he wasn't the truth they were looking for (see what they did there?). Kane, who wasn't around but was targeted by Bray's boys last week, was told to follow the buzzards.
To me it looks like the Wyatts are not only feuding with 'The Big Red Machine' but trying to recruit him. It's early though, so I could be wrong. Maybe Kane and Undertaker will face the Wyatt Family at SummerSlam instead of having their rumoured match with The Shield. I'm sure the Brothers of Destruction v The Wyatt Family would be good but The Shield deserve the match more. They've been around longer and are credited with taking 'The Dead Man' out of action.
The Usos defeated The Real Americans (yep, that's what they're officially called now) in a quick match and then Christian beat Damien Sandow. Having a guy win a Money in the Bank contract one night and then lose a meaningless TV bout the next may seem like bad planning but I think it makes sense.
'The Intellectual Saviour's' ladder match victory was presented as the result of his opportunism. He hasn't suddenly become someone who wins on TV all the time, he's someone who timed things well in a chaotic match and won at the expense of his best friend's hard work. It makes sense. Becoming a regular TV winner is a gradual process.
Cody Rhodes showed up after the match to launch an attack. The crowd were into Rhodes, which was nice to see. Damo escaped through the crowd. Add this to the list of suspected SummerSlam encounters.
After Cena's potential SummerSlam opponent Brie Bella defeated Naomi in a match that came close to being offensively bad it was time for CM Punk to make his presence known. 'The Straight Edge Superhero' called out Heyman and Lesnar. Naturally he wanted an explanation for Heyman’s actions at Money in the Bank.
Heyman came out alone and said he was looking at an empty ring. In his world (the magical land of Heymania) Punk doesn't exist. In 2005 WWE had no idea what to do with Punk and it was only because of Heyman that he stayed employed. Heyman had a vision for him. He took Punk under his wing, trained him, taught him, and martyred his own career for him. Together they reached the Holy Grail, the WWE championship. "We were the best in the world," said Heyman.
Without Heyman CM Punk is not, apparently, 'The Best in the World'. I don't think he's that with or without Heyman but my opinion's neither here nor there. Heyman told Punk he failed them when he lost to The Undertaker at WrestleMania.
Heyman reminded us that Punk’s estranged from his family and that all he has is the fans and his pursuit of the WWE championship. The crowd cheered this, naturally, even though it’s true and a rather depressing state of affairs. This would have had a far greater impact had Punk’s personal life not been dredged up for his shoddy feud with Chris Jericho last year.
Anyway. Heyman took away Punk’s chance to become champion away because it was so important to him. Heyman ended by telling Punk that he betrayed him because he can’t beat Brock Lesnar.
Punk’s reply was that he was going to get Heyman, his associates, his friends and his family. He will stop at nothing until he has his hands on Heyman. The businessman apparently has a lack of future.
Heyman then knelt down on the ground to mock Punk’s “It’s clobberin’ time!” cry. That brought out Brock Lesnar (obvs). Lesnar distracted ‘The Second City Saint’ with a jig at ringside. Punk is a renowned fan of shoot fighters doing jigs. That allowed Heyman to sneak into the ring and attack from behind. Lesnar then pulled Punk out of the ring and went for an F5. Punk slipped out and the two progressed into more traditional brawling territory. ‘The Beast’ ended with the upper hand after he F5ed Punk on the announce table.It was a very strong segment. Heyman was as good as always on the microphone, as was Punk. It was exactly the sort of exchange I'd been expecting from the feud. We'll likely get more as the weeks go by.
A Lesnar v Punk teaser
Lesnar did a great job of playing the ferocious beast. I think how talented he is often gets downplayed in favour of praising Heyman. 'The Pain' knows what he's doing in segments like this, and it's not just as simple as "playing a more psychotic version of himself". The guy understands pro wrestling and its tropes more than he's credited with. All three did a good job and I'm looking forward to the Punk v Lesnar SummerSlam match.
Backstage Triple H and Steph bullied Brad Maddox. Brad was told he only got the GM gig because he was in the right place at the right time. Both implied that Vince wouldn't be happy if Cena chose to face who they thought he would. They didn't say who that was. I think we were meant to assume they were talking about Daniel Bryan. Perhaps next time they do one of these segments it could be a bit less like a guessing game? Just a thought.
Rob Van Dam and Chris Jericho had the sort of sloppy match you'd expect. They got better as they went on but I've seen better from both. Van Dam won.
What's irritating is that 'Y2J' has since taken to Twitter to say that he and RVD always have had and always will have fantastic chemistry. If fantastic chemistry produces average, botch-laden matches then yes, they have fantastic chemistry. But as nobody sane uses that definition I think we'll have to assume that Jericho's buying into his own hype. Again.
The main event was a John Cena promo (what else?). The entire roster assembled at the top of the ramp. Faces and heels mingled happily in a scene that obliterated kayfabe. Particularly ridiculous was Ryback standing next to Jericho. They’d been feuding for a month and had faced off at the previous evening’s show.Cena told us he couldn’t say who he’d picked to face him at SummerSlam because he hadn’t decided. Superstars had been approaching him all night to ask for the spot but he hadn’t heard the most important voice: the voice of the WWE Universe™. The reason Cena thinks the fans deserve to be heard is that they’re tough on him, and that toughness is honesty. I thought it was because without fans he’d be without a job. Who knew?
Even if they all jumped him Cena would still win
Cena wanted to pick someone the fans felt deserved the shot. That prompted scattered chants of “Daniel Bryan” and then a more focused “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Cena said a few names to gauge the popularity of various wrestlers.
Heath Slater got boos, as did all of 3MB (their time will come). Randy Orton got a mostly positive reaction, although there were some boos. Khali got a mixed reaction, which caused him to raise his hand and laugh. Because he’s not got a clue what day of the week it is, let alone what Cena’s promo was about.
Alberto Del Rio, whom Cena referred to as El Presidente, got some strong boos. Jericho and RVD got strong reactions. It’s worth pointing out that the audience were keener on them than ‘The Viper’. Fandango and Sheamus were treated to mixed reaction. Considering the push ‘Great White’s’ had over the last two years that’s probably not what WWE wanted to hear.
The suggestion that Ryback get another title match was booed. That’s for the best. His matches with Cena blew no one away.
Like a 1980s’ babyface Cena then milked the audience for a bit, asking if he’d forgotten anyone to provoke a “Yes!” chant. The champ said he’d made his decision and that it was someone who deserved the opportunity and would make SummerSlam a very special occasion: Daniel Bryan.‘The Dazzler’ yessed his way to the ring, yessed it up on a turnbuckle and then yessed himself senseless in Cena’s face. The crowd were hot for the announcement. Which is a good sign for SummerSlam.
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!